ZINZINNATI — One of the many things we missed during the pandemic was Oktoberfest Zinzinnati.
The good news is that it's back, and we discovered it's one of the few things that hasn't soared in price in 2021.
Matt and Sherry King were looking forward to sharing the festival with their young kids for the first time.
"We are very thrilled to have it back. We're excited to let the kids try the food this year," she said.
T-shirt vendor Jim Hebert has had a tough year, and is thrilled to be back.
"Just being off a year feels like three years. Getting back into everything is good to see," Hebert said.
But he said the last thing he wants to do is hit his booth's visitors with big price hikes.
Vendors struggle not to raise prices
If you've been to the grocery store this year, you know that prices are up on almost everything, from cars to groceries to gasoline.
But that's not the case here at Oktoberfest for the most part, despite higher costs for vendors.
Perhaps they didn't want to repaint their signs. But prices haven't changed much in almost 10 years.
The only item we saw up in price from our last visit in 2019 was bottled water, which now costs $1 more.
So how do you keep your costs down?
First, make it a dinner visit. You don't want to eat at 3 p.m., then again a few hours later.
Pretzels and cream puffs are $5 at most booths.
Brats are $7 to $9, but you can find some hot dogs for $4. Plus, the kids will probably prefer hot dogs.
A draft beer is $6 everywhere, no matter what brand, so don't waste time looking for a discount. And kudos to organizers and beer vendors for keeping the price the same as in 2019, the last time the event took place.
But bottled water has bubbled up a buck, to $4, since our 2019 price check.
So you can easily save $8 by bringing two bottles of water from home.
And when it comes to parking, the city-recommended site BestParking.com shows you will pay $10 to $20 in most lots and garages around the Oktoberfest area, the same as two years ago.
Beware open parking meters on streets: most have a 30- or 60-minute limit, and parking enforcement will be checking them all weekend.
But you can park north of 6th Street for around $5 - $10 in lots and ride the streetcar for free. Kaya Barrett is planning to do just that.
"It's exciting to have everyone come downtown to experience it again," she said.
Finally, the Reds are in town this weekend, and they have an Oktoberfest mug and ticket offer on their website, so you don't waste your money.
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